Thursday, July 16, 2009

Phoebe in Wonderland

3.5 out of 5 Stars
The film critic in me had to rate this original film as 3.5 out of 5 stars. The sensitive teacher and former OCD/anxious child in me would give this 4 out of 5 stars. I loved the concept of the story enhanced by some really striking, honest and insightful lines in the screenplay. On paper, Phoebe is an extremely dynamic character. On camera, Elle Fanning portrayed the role with such subtlety and lack of melodrama that she managed to (without child actor pretentiousness) to outshine her very talented 'grown up' co stars. I did love Patricia Clarkson as the drama teacher (in 4th grade I had a teacher just like her). But her character loses steam in the final 20 minutes. Not at all Clarkson's fault, in fact the entire film crashes in on itself in those last 20 minutes. Felicity Huffman's caring and nurturing mom who wants what is best for her children falls flat, also due to the script. And Campbell Scott's talent is completely wasted in the role of the principal. In the final third of the film, the screen writer tied a beautiful and painful story together way too neatly. But days after seeing the film, I can't get the image of Elle Fanning as Phoebe counting steps, washing her hands, being unable to control her behavior and crying out for help in the world of fantasy out of my mind...

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